A PROMINENT community rights and health advocate has been appointed to a Queensland Government committee on tackling domestic violence in an effort to promote LGBTI inclusion on the issue.
HIV specialist and founder of the Men Affected by Rape and Sexual abuse (MARS) support group, Dr Wendell Rosevear, has been appointed to the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council to help better understand and recognise domestic violence issues specific to the LGBTI community.
A key element of the report was to include any part of society that experiences domestic violence, including those who haven’t been addressed before on such a scale like the LGBTI community.
Acknowledging Rosevear’s decades of experience dealing with abuse and domestic violence within the LGBTI community, Domestic Violence Prevention Minister Shannon Fentiman said the government understood LGBTI issues needed to be looked at separately.
“Dr Wendell Rosevear has a high level of expertise in domestic and family violence in the LGBTI relationships given his extensive work in community health, suicide prevention, alcohol and drugs, victim and perpetrator programs,” Fentiman told the Star Observer.
Rosevear’s experience working within the community goes as far back as 1975 when he was working in Queensland prisons.
“I helped set up the Gay and Lesbian Health Service with Dr. David Orth in 1990 and have run GLADS, the Gay and Lesbian Alcohol and Drug Support Group since 1991 and the MARS group since 1993, having helped 1222 men affected by Rape and Sexual Abuse,” Rosevear told the Star Observer.
“I have worked with both victims and perpetrators, so have been given a unique perspective on the dynamics of abuse, its healing and prevention.”
Identifying roadblocks that contribute to the underreporting of domestic violence within the LGBTI community along with forms of abuse unique to the community are key to understanding the problem, he said.
“I am sad that some victims feel unable or afraid to report or ask for help,” Rosevear said.
“We need awareness and education across all agencies to make it easier to ask for help plus education for prevention to ‘treat people how you would like to be treated’, rather than ‘treating people how you were treated’.
“I know LGBTI people, men and women who are treated with prejudice and discrimination when they report domestic violence and our society can’t afford that. My fundamental belief is in the equal value of all people and I welcome input to feed to the council to help make no one invisible.
“We also need to listen to victims about which path meets their needs to achieve safety and resolution and not just think one path fits all. In abuse you don’t have a choice, in recovery each person deserves free choice.”
Sharing an insight into how he approaches both sides in an abusive situation, Rosevear said helping people see their value was critical.
“One of the saddest consequences of unresolved abuse is self-abuse or abuse of others. Only as we value each other, and ourselves can we break the cycle,” he said.
“Valuing each other and respecting honesty about choice, boundary, identity, gender, sexuality and mistakes so that we can live and learn and have a safe community.”
Last year the state government committed to delivering all 140 recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever report, and through establishing the Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council that consists of 20 experts from around Queensland, Fenitman hopes to make efforts addressing domestic violence as broad but inclusive as possible.
“We recognise that domestic and family violence in LGBTI relationships is often under-reported and people can face barriers in accessing information and support,” she said.
“I am confident that Dr Rosevear will play a vital part in advocating and informing the Council’s discussions on these issues.”
The council, chaired by Bryce, is set to meet every six weeks for two years.